Cardinal Arinze Decries Word Games in Abortion Debate

University Conference Covers Contraception, Research, Catholic Doctors

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FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, JULY 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The retired president of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments says a spade should be called a spade in the abortion debate.

Cardinal Francis Arinze said this Saturday at a one-day conference on bioethics hosted by Christendom College and featuring the cardinal, as well as Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, Janet Smith and Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk.

Cardinal Arinze observed how fundamental human rights are inviolable because they are given by God and are inherent in the human person.

"If a person is killed, of what use are all the other rights to him or her?" he asked. "Some people say, 'I am personally opposed to abortion, but I will not impose my view on others.' It is like saying, 'Some people want to shoot all of you in the Senate and the House of Representatives, but I won't impose my views on them. It's pro-choice for them.'"

"Is it not highly illogical for some people to talk of some whales, and the chimpanzees, and trees as 'endangered species' which must be preserved -- and if you torture a dog in some countries you will be brought to court for your cruelty to animals -- while the killing of unborn babies is labeled 'pro-choice' instead of what it is: murder? Call a spade a spade."

Author and speaker Janet Smith then addressed the topic of contraception. Using the philosophy of personalism found in Blessed John Paul II's theology of the body, Smith explained the damaging effects of contraception on the marital relationship.

"To have marital relations with a person and to not be open to having a child with that person would be to deny the reality that sexual intercourse leads to lifetime relationships," she said. "This is meant to be something that you rejoice in, not as something you see as a punishment for having marital relations."

Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk of the National Catholic Bioethics Center addressed the issue of embryonic stem cell research.

Hollywood hype, scientific curiosity and lucrative research patens are what keep the destruction of embryos for stem cells funded and active, he said.

Father Pacholczyk pointed out the irony of a 1940 U.S. law that protects not only the bald eagle, but the bald eagle's egg.

"If we can see that destroying a bald eagle's egg is just as bad as destroying a bald eagle, why can't we see the same thing when it comes to human life?" he asked.

Bishop Morlino followed with a presentation on natural law and end of life discussions.

"Every case of a terminally ill or close-to-natural-death person is unique," Bishop Morlino said, "and somebody has got to get in there with the physicians and know the whole story."

"The assessments are not that hard to make," Bishop Morlino said. "It's the pastoral communication that is so difficult. If the person does not feel like a burden in anybody's eyes and is not a burden in anybody's eyes, the pastoral approach to the communication of the truth is much easier."

Bringing the conference to a close Lorna Cvetkovich of the Tepeyac Family Center discussed the challenges facing Catholics who practice medicine.

"In our society 80% of women have been on birth control pills. If you are over 35 and have one child there is a 50%-60% chance that you've been sterilized, and the rate of IVF pregnancies just goes up and up every single year," Cvetkovich said. "We have a lot to contend with."

She explained that Catholic medical professionals do not only need to worry about reproductive health issues, but good business and research practices. A challenge for the medical profession is to understand and recognize when ideology has trumped our scientific ideal.

"A lot of data and research has shown that abortion does increase the risk of breast cancer," she noted. "Why is there this cover up? In the past we could trust that people had the intent to do good research."

Concluding, Cvetkovich said she fears for the future of Catholic medicine. "We will have the choice to either practice anti-Hippocratic, pro-choice type medicine and keep our jobs or practice Hippocratic, Catholic, pro-life medicine and lose our jobs."